The cake was all gone. P.O. had finished the remaining three slices left.
Everyone bantered while cleaning up.
Jungah tied the garbage together and looked around. Someone was missing. *Zico.* Jungah went into the living room. Taeil was showing Kris a game on his phone while P.O. and U-Kwon instructed him how to play it.
*Where did Zico go?* Jungah spotted a figure on the veranda. She slid open the patio door and stepped outside.
Zico turned his head. “Oh, Jungie Jungie. You caught me cheating~ I was here while everyone else was cleaning~” He chuckled.
“What exactly are you doing out here?” Jungah asked.
Zico turned his gaze back to the sky full of shining stars, “Nothing really. Just enjoying the peace and quiet.” He leaned towards her and pointed beyond, “Do you see that star over there? It’s really big, isn’t it?”
Jungah turned her head and softly gazed at Zico. He directed his attention towards her and straightened up, “Wae? Is there something on my face?”
Jungah took a deep breath and touched her new lucky charm hanging from her neck, “I wanted to thank you again for your gift. I mean, I like everyone’s gifts…but I like yours the most.”
“Don’t let Kyung let you hear that. He’ll get upset.” Zico winked.
“But really…thank you.” Jungah softly murmured.
Zico softened. He reached out and tenderly curled a tendril of her hair behind her ear. Jungah lifted her chin up and gazed into his eyes. “You’ve grown up so much, Jungah.” Zico affectionately whispered. “You were just in middle school girl when your mom first brought you to my house. And now, look at you. You’re a beautiful young lady. Any man would be lucky to have you.” He ran the back of his fingers down her jaw.
Cheeks flushing warmly, she looked at the ground. *That man could never be you, can it, Woo Jiho?*
Zico searched her face. *I’m sorry that that man could never be me. I know. I’m a coward. But I’m happy just being able to watch you from afar. That’s how I will always love you, Jungah. From afar, yet my love for you will endure forever.*
“Where’s the bathroom?” Kris asked.
“Down there.” U-Kwon pointed.
Kris got up and headed down the hallway. He opened a door and stopped. *This isn’t the bathroom.*
Kris turned to go but halted. He turned back around and stared at the photo frame on Zico’s nightstand. Kris knew he shouldn’t invade other people’s privacy, but there was someone in the picture who looked so familiar. He walked inside and slowly, carefully, dreadfully picked up the picture. His eyes rounded. Although the girl was younger, he recognized the flat, annoyed expression immediately.
His gaze shifted to the younger male. Obviously, it was Zico.
*Why does he have her picture by his bedside? It is jut because they are- or were, according to Jungah- stepsiblings?* Then an awful thought crossed his mind. *What is Zico was in love with Jungah the entire time but kept his feelings hidden all this time? If this is true and Jungah finds out, it is game over for me.* His face paled, and his knuckles sharpened in alarm.
A hand came out of nowhere and stole the picture from his grasp.
Kris turned around. Zico placed the photo back by his bedside. “Jungah was cute back then, too, huh? Even when she frowns she is adorable.” He chuckled.
Kris’s eyebrows slightly pinched together in the middle in worry. “You…”
Zico looked up at him. His eyes dared him to ask the impending question.
Kris swallowed hard. “Do you…by any chance…?”
Zico didn’t press him or switch the topic. He just patiently waited for Kris to say what was on his mind.
“Do you love Jungah?” Kris exhaled. *Please say no.* His insides churned uneasily.
Zico intrepidly looked into his eyes, “Yes, I do.”
Kris in his breath, and his fists tightened. *He loves Jungah?! Why didn’t he say anything all this time?! Does he know how much she is infatuated with him?!*
Then Zico finished, “Like I told you before, I am her brother. What kind of a brother doesn’t love his sister?”
Kris shot him a puzzled look. *Just as her brother? That’s it? But they’re really not related.*
Zico gazed at him, “I love her like family…but, you’re in love with Jungah, aren’t you?”
*How did he know?* Kris averted his gaze.
Zico softly smiled with a faraway look in his eyes, “Jungah means a lot to me. She’s the last family that I have left, and she is my best friend. If anything would happen to her, I wouldn’t be able to stand it.” He shifted his gaze back up to Kris, “So I should play the big brother act now, right?” Kris stared at him. “Don’t break Jungah’s heart. If she comes to me crying about you, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.” *For letting her go…*
Zico stated while directly looking into his opponent’s eyes. Then he gave a cheerful smile, thumped Kris on the arm, and left.
Kris stared off into space in a daze. *So he loves her as a sibling only. I feel bad for Jungah, but a bigger part of me is happy he’s not returning her feelings. Then I still have a chance with her. I’m selfish, but I can’t help it. I want her. I need her. And Zico is right…I do love her. I don’t want anyone else to take her away from me.* He glanced once more at the picture of Jungah and Zico then left the room.
On the way back to the living room, he bumped into Jaehyo.
Kris turned to leave, but Jaehyo called, “Yah.”
Kris stopped. He turned around with a cold expression. *If this bastard wants me to apologize, he’ll be disappointed since I won’t give him one.*
Jaehyo walked up to him and searched his face.
Instead of demanding for an apology, he asked a stunning question, “Are you serious about Jungah?”
Kris blinked at him.
“Answer my question. Are you serious about Jungah? Does she mean something to you?” Jaehyo interrogated.
Kris narrowed his eyes, “I don’t know what that has to do with you-“
“It does. It has everything to do with me and the rest of the guys in there.” Jaehyo crossed his arms, “Han Jungah doesn’t have one stepbrother. She has seven brothers. If you told Jungah that I told you this, she would probably laugh in your face since I don’t show her much affection. In fact, I show her the quite opposite. But the fact of the matter is, I care for Jungah. Although she can be annoying as hell, she’s still someone I have to look out for.” He stepped closer and boldly stared at Kris with menace flashing across his dark eyes, “And if you’re planning to just play with for a while and let her go, I suggest you stop your game now. Jungah isn’t the type of girl you can just have a one-night stand with. She seems like a with no feelings, but she’s one of the most innocent people you will ever meet. If you break her…I will break you.”
Kris stared back down at him. He was agitated that someone he had just met twice would threaten him like this. On the other hand, he was amazed at how defensive the boys were really over Jungah, when on the outside, they pretended as if they didn’t care for her.
Jaehyo stepped back with a vile smirk and tapped his head, “Think twice, transfer kid. Don’t make me ship you back to China so soon.” He turned and sauntered off.
Jungah came back inside and looked around. *Where did Kris go?* She headed towards the hall and stopped. She saw Jaehyo coming out. Behind him was Kris.
Jungah grabbed Jaehyo’s arm and gave him a reproachful look, “Did you do something to Kris?”
Jaehyo twisted his arm away and gave her an unreadable look, “If I did, what would you do, birthday girl?”
She furrowed her eyebrows. He pushed her head lightly, slipped his hand into the pocket of his jacket, and walked away.
Jungah gave him another suspicious look and looked up at Kris. Her eyes softened in concern. “Did Jaehyo do something to you?”
Kris shook his head. Then he lightly smirked, “Are you worried about me? Will you break another arm for me?”
Her expression flattened. *I regret worrying about him now. Obviously, he can fully take care of himself.* She turned to leave, but he grasped her arm and pulled her back. Jungah gave him an inquiring look.
Kris glanced down at the four-leaf clover pendant around her neck. He drifted his gaze back up to her face. “My present for you is in the car. I can’t wait to give it to you…but I want to give it to you when we’re alone. You’re all right with that, aren’t you?” She paused then nodded.
“Good.” Kris touched her cheek and squeezed her arm, “Just wait a little more.”
“Hey, Wu Fan. Want to play?” Taeil waved his phone in the air. He straightened up and walked towards him. She turned around and watched him get along with the rest of Block B. Even U-Kwon was starting to warm up a little. His hostile remarks grew less and less.
*I had nothing to worry about after all.* Jungah thought.
It was approaching 11 p.m. Kris and Jungah decided to leave.
“Thank you for the birthday party.” She shook all the gifts in her left hand, “And the presents.”
“Wear mine for next Saturday!” Kyung waved.
“Wear mine tonight.” U-Kwon winked.
Jungah rolled her eyes.
“It was nice to meet you.” Taeil and P.O. waved at Kris.
“Yeah, good game. We can play again next time.” U-Kwon nodded with a bored expression. Yet, his eyes were eager and bright. Kris nodded. He took Jungah’s gifts for her and headed to the elevator first.
Jungah stepped out of the apartment and turned around to face Zico. “Go home safe, Jungie Jungie.” He sweetly smiled.
“Yeah…thanks for everything. I guess you’ll be gone tomorrow, right?” She asked.
Zico nodded. “I’ll call you when I come back.” Jungah nodded. “Bye.” With a wave, she turned around and walked away.
Zico gripped onto the doorway and watched her walk away from him towards the other male in her life. It was hard letting her go, but he stayed there and watched with a numbing heart.
When Kris and Jungah disappeared into the elevator, Zico went back into his apartment and headed to the patio. He gazed out at the parking lot below. His heart thumped as he waited for them to reappear. After what seemed like an eternity, Kris and Jungah came out. They were talking, and Zico could catch a glimpse of a smile on her face. Kris opened the door for her with a sweet, gentle smile. Jungah entered, and Kris latched the seatbelt on her. He went into the driver’s side, turned the engine on, and left.
*There he goes…with my heart. Lucky man.*
“Won’t you regret it?” A voie asked out of nowhere.
Zico turned his head.
Kyung was looking out at the vanishing orange sports car. “Won’t you regret letting her go like that? You didn’t even fight. Heck, you practically gave her to him wrapped up in a bow.”
Zico lightly chuckled then warmly smiled, “I don’t regret anything. I did what was the best.”
“For her, but not for you.” Kyung looked at him, “I’m worried about you, Zico. You’re giving up your happiness. At what price?”
Zico turned to him, “Jungah’s happiness. Her happiness is priceless. For her to smile just once, I’d give up everything I have.”
Kyung’s face softened with pity, “Woo Jiho.”
Zico looked away and inhaled deeply, “Besides, I’m not letting her go. Jungah will always remain by my side. She said I’m special to her. That is enough for me.” With a sincere smile, he patted Kyung’s shoulder and went back inside.
*Woo Jiho, you selfish bastard.* Kyung shook his head with a sigh. *I don’t know if I should admire you or feel sorry for you.*